Review: Closer Than You Think, by Darren O’Sullivan

Closer Than You Think

He’s watching. She’s waiting.

Having barely escaped the clutches of a serial killer, Claire Moore has struggled to rebuild her life. After her terrifying encounter with the man the media dubbed The Black-Out Killer, she became an overnight celebrity: a symbol of hope and survival in the face of pure evil. And then the killings stopped.

Now ten years have passed, and Claire remains traumatised by her brush with death. Though she has a loving and supportive family around her, what happened that night continues to haunt her still.

Just when things are starting to improve, there is a power cut; a house fire; another victim found killed in the same way as before.

The Black-Out Killer is back. And he’s coming for Claire…

I listened to this book via Audible, with Avena Wallace’s soft Irish lilt perfect for the part of Claire, and the author himself doing a great job of narrating the killer.

Claire’s life has been forever changed by the events of ten years earlier, which left her a  widow, and terribly injured, the extent of which is slowly revealed as the story unfolds. She is slowly starting to push the boundaries of her very restrictive comfort zone when things start to take a darker turn.

Claire’s existence is based around trying to manage her fear, fear that is rooted in her terrible past, but we get to see that past catching up with her. Her claustrophobic existence is made to feel very real, as she struggles to take a shower without her mother waiting outside the bathroom. And I think seeing into the mind of the serial killer, both through the dual narrative of his thoughts, but also the letters he is writing (but not sending to Claire), really notches up the tension as the story heads for its dramatic finale.

All-in-all, a great domestic noir thriller that kept me guessing.



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Review: Sniper, by Karla Forbes


Flynn was one of the elite, a highly trained sniper in the British army who was proud of his skills and lived by a strict moral code. But even the best can crack when the stress becomes intolerable and now he’s on the rampage bearing a grudge and carrying an arsenal of stolen weapons. He believes that good soldiers are being killed because governments go to war over oil. In his twisted mind, anyone who drives a gas guzzling four by four is the enemy and deserves to die. As he carves a trail of terror and death across the country, the authorities are closing in.

But for one man, it’s become personal. Nick Sullivan is holding a grudge of his own and is hard on the heels of the sniper. But when he finally hunts down his quarry, will his thirst for revenge blind him to the fact that he’s no match for a professionally trained killer? For Flynn is the best there is. He’s a master of his craft.

This is the third in Karla Forbes Nick Sullivan thriller series. I love the concept (spoiler if you haven’t read the earlier books) of Nick falling into the profession after being an investment banker, so not being the most competent spy, but definitely the most enthusiastic (and hot-headed). And he continues to not follow orders in this very competent thriller.

This time, Nick’s pursuing a lead in his own time when an old Uni friend’s name is discovered on a list in a dead hitman’s pocket, so he’s taken Annalise on a holiday to Scotland. But that holiday becomes more dangerous and more personal than Nick could ever have bargained for.

Once again, a good story, which is very well narrated by Graig Bowles, as Nick tries to find out why his old friend, Andrew is a target, and what, if anything, links the dead hitman and the sniper who is slowly working his way north. With a hitman who decides almost on a whim who is guilty and deserving to be killed, and Nick and Annalise finding themselves in his cross-hairs, the author balances tension with humour to keep the reader interested throughout.


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Review: On My Life, by Angela Clarke


Framed. Imprisoned. Pregnant.

Jenna thought she had the perfect life: a loving fiancé, a great job, a beautiful home. Then she finds her stepdaughter murdered; her partner missing.

And the police think she did it…

Locked up to await trial, surrounded by prisoners who’d hurt her if they knew what she’s accused of, certain someone close to her has framed her, Jenna knows what she needs to do:

Clear her name
Save her baby
Find the killer

I listened to the audio version of this via Audible and it’s another great novel by Angela Clarke, with excellent narration by Sarah Durham. Actually, now I’ve typed that, I think I’m going to say it’s her best. So far. Why? Because whilst Jenna finds herself in such an unimaginable situation, as a reader, I found myself so closely drawn in that I couldn’t help become emotionally entangled.

Not only has Jenna had that perfect life snatched away from her, but she also finds herself having to deal with multiple issues; from finding her missing fiancé to identifying Emily’s killer. From hiding her media-created identity (and her pregnancy) to dealing with being targeted by the most notorious inmate in the prison.

It is well-known that the author is involved in prison visits, and for me, that experience has added a layer of authenticity to a well-crafted story. The experiences faced by pregnant women in prison are unimaginable, and the author has highlighted these within a gripping story; one that will keep you guessing. And hardly daring to believe that it could have any kind of happy ending.

Highly recommended. The book that is. Not prison.


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Review: Game Theory, by Colleen Cross


Someone is siphoning funds from billionaire Zachary Barron’s currency hedge fund. Intent on prosecuting the thief to the fullest extent of the law, he hires Katerina “Kat” Carter, the best forensic accountant in the business, to follow the money trail. Both are shocked when it leads to Zachary’s father, Nathan.

And he’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nathan belongs to a shadowy organization with global ties and unimaginable resources. They already control the banking industry and the media, but their ultimate goal – the collapse of the global currency market and a new world order – will soon be within reach.

Kat may be all that stands in their way. But for how long? The organization learns of her involvement and sends a warning. She knows it will be her last – others who have tried to foil their agenda have met with violent deaths.

If Kat walks away and keeps her mouth shut, she’ll look over her shoulder for the rest of her life in a world she’ll scarcely recognize. Ignoring the threat makes her and everyone she cares about a target… or a potential traitor.

Still, as Kat Carter knows all too well… the greater the risk, the greater the reward.

And there’s no hedging on this bet. It’s all or nothing. Who’s in?

This is the second in the Katerina Carter fraud thrillers; I’ll be reviewing numbers three and four in the not too distant future, and I reviewed Exit Strategy here.

I like the concept of a forensic accountant for a thriller – it stands a little bit apart from a legal thriller, and a forensic accountant’s life is all about following the money, to get to the bottom of fraud. This is where bean counting becomes more than just counting beans.

Game Theory is a competent thriller, and a great listen on Audible (it’s very well read by Petrea Burchard), and this story has an extra dimension of Kat trying to deal with her Uncle Harry’s deteriorating health, which adds a real personal layer to things.

It’s a great listen, but there were some niggles for me. A few aspects of the story didn’t sit right with me. I’m not convinced Zachary could be that blind to what had been going on, and there were a couple of times when Kat’s reaction, or thoughts, had me shaking my head. I mean, she’s a forensic accountant, a smart cookie by all accounts, but there is the odd time when she can’t quickly see the obvious. A bit irritating, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a good listen/read, and I am just being picky!






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Blog Tour Review: Twisted, by Steve Cavanagh



1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

I am delighted to be part of Steve Cavanagh’s blog tour for Twisted, his latest novel all based around JT LeBeau, a famous, yet incredibly elusive author.

First off, I’ll start by saying I’m a huge fan of Steve’s writing, and I think his Eddie Flynn series is exceptional. Twisted is a very different story and a very different kind of novel. I read in another review somewhere that this is one of those books where the less said, the better the reader experience will be, and I think that’s a great point.

The book starts in August, with Paul Cooper waiting outside a theatre where mourners are attending a memorial service dedicated to the late JT LeBeau. But Paul isn’t a mourner; he’s got a .38 and he’s there to kill someone.

Skip back 4 months and we’re taken back to when things were relatively normal for Paul. We watch his story steadily play its way out through love, betrayal, greed and revenge (your usual crime thriller fare), and then at almost exactly the half-way point of the novel (I think my Kindle said 51%), there’s a major twist. And from then on in, everything seems to have been tossed in the air, and there’s no telling where it’s going to land!

I’m going to say no more about the story, other than it’ll keep you guessing.

I’m pleased to say I loved it!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…

Not JT LeBEau





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Review: Grey Magic, by JT Lawrence


Did real-life witch Raven Kane murder one of her clients?

No one appreciates the irony of her situation more than Raven Kane: she’s a burnt-out witch … and that’s the least of her problems.

Accused of murder, this eccentric hexing-and-texting witch must explore her past lives to keep her freedom and find her way back to magic.

Not my usual read (or listen, as again this was an audiobook via Audible), but sometimes you’ve got to push the boundaries, and I’m glad I did.

I wasn’t sure when I first started listening. When you’re pretty much entrenched in a particular genre, wide as that may be, something quite different has a different effect on the reading experience. I’m also not sure how far into the book I was before I realised that I really liked the protagonist, and was keen to see how all this panned out. And things just got more and more interesting, until, towards the end, I found myself delaying having to do something as I had to listen to see how everything was resolved.

This modern witchcraft story is set in a slightly alternate reality South Africa, where witchcraft is alive and well, and people are keen to seek out the help of witches (often over the internet), but where the tensions of witch trials of old are bubbling just under the surface.

Raven Kane is accused of murder and finds herself under the watchful eye of Captain Kruger as he investigates the murder of one of her clients. But there seems to be more to Captain Kruger than meets the eye, and with herself in the frame and public attention starting to turn more hostile, Raven is facing an uphill struggle to keep her attraction to Kruger in check whilst trying to prove her innocence, neither of which is easy. Especially as she’s as guilty as the devil!

A very enjoyable listen – give it a go!

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Review: After He Died, by Michael J. Malone


You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought she knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

I’m guessing it must be a bit of challenge to write authentically from the point of view of the opposite sex, but I’ve read (or listened to) a few books lately where the author seems to be able to do just that. After He Died, by Michael J. Malone is one of them.

The story starts with Paula Gadd being approached by Cara Connolly at the funeral of her husband, Thomas, and the note she is handed sends her on a path where the truth seems to want to stay tantalisingly out of reach. Cara blames Thomas for the death of her own brother, but how can Paula trust what she’s being told, when the man being described is nothing like the man she’d been married to for many years?

Michael expertly spins a tale of mystery from a web of family relationships, where the faces people portray are thin masks hiding their problems – or ambition. After He Died is an entertaining novel that keeps you hooked, with an ending that does not disappoint.

Oh, and I should mention that After He Died is published by Karen Sullivan’s Orenda Books. If ever there was a mark of quality, Orenda is it!


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